Alpine opens the door for Piastri’s return: ‘Then I won’t say no’

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Laurent Rossi is opening the door to Oscar Piastri’s return to Alpine, should it ever come to that in the future. That is what the CEO of the French car brand says in the podcast Beyond The Grid. He holds no grudge against the Australian and simply wants to move on, even though it remains a sensitive point that has led to changes within Alpine.

The story of the break between Piastri and Alpine is well known. After Fernando Alonso announced his departure for Aston Martin, Alpine thought it could announce Piastri as his replacement. Later, the former F2 champion posted a tweet denying having signed a contract. It led to a case with the FIA, which ruled in favor of Piastri. Reason: the Australian did have a valid contract with McLaren, but not with Alpine.

Team boss Otmar Szafnauer expressed his displeasure with the situation on several occasions and lashed out at the 21-year-old several times. Rossi, on the other hand, now says he holds no grudge against Piastri. “You know, it’s okay. It’s over now. We have learned our lessons. There is no need to hold a grudge. I think it destroys you and destroys the things you want to do. So, you know, that’s gone. I wish him well.’

Rossi understanding about Piastri’s approach

Rossi is also not unwilling to return Piastri. ‘We’ll see. If the opportunity arises, I don’t say no, but I don’t immediately say yes either. Again, we’ll see.’ The French top man can also show understanding for how Piastri approached his departure. “Look, I don’t want to call drivers disloyal, to be honest,” he says, in contrast to Szafnauer.

“They also have their own careers to manage and God knows how hard that is,” Rossi continues. “There are very few drivers and that is of course terrible. They don’t have it easy. If they have a bad year, they just get the sack and that’s tough. So they also have to look after their own interests’, the Alpine CEO is understanding.

Still, it does not alter the fact that Rossi is not happy with how the breakup turned out. “Now there are probably ways to do it differently. I wouldn’t have stopped Oscar from leaving if he’d come up with something more structured, like, hey guys, I’ve got another offer too. What are we doing? Can we talk? It just surprised us, and I think it surprised Daniel Ricciardo too, which is saying a lot, isn’t it?’

Alpine strengthens its own position in the contractual field: ‘As if you are family with a contract’

As a result, the manners within Alpine have been tightened in the contractual area. ‘We learned a lot. I would say there is no such thing as loyalty, especially when individual interests are at stake. It is difficult to combine both for people who are sometimes too young to weigh the pros and cons of both. And then we also found out that we were insufficiently prepared in a number of areas, especially in the way we structure our contracts with the academy drivers and the way we transfer that to the Formula 1 world.

Rossi still saw too much room for interpretation in the contracts. “We’ve already changed that. We are now a bit more corporate and protect our contracts. It is a bit stricter if you want to sign something at Alpine. It’s like being family now, but with a contract. That’s a little sad, but it is what it is. You don’t expect your kids to leave their bedroom and never show up again.”

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